Confident Belgium wary of threat from Japan

03 July, 2018, 00:40 | Author: Elena Meyer
  • Belgium's Eden Hazard celebrates after scoring his side's fourth goal during the group G match between Belgium and Tunisia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Spartak Stadium in Moscow Russia Saturday

Belgium breezed through Group G, beating Panama 3-0 and Tunisia 5-2 before their 1-0 win over England.

The race to reach the quarterfinals of FIFA World Cup 2018 is on and Belgium is set to play against Japan today.

Kick-off is 7pm Nigerian time.

Japan earlier struck twice through Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui in the second half but Belgium hit back with three goals in the last 25 minutes.

After the shock of the two goals, Lukaka had a glancing header wide before defender Jan Vertonghen popped up with a header in the 69th minute which looped over Eiji Kawashima in goal.

"Japan had fantastic performances in the group stage and progressed to the round of 16 in both cases, but.the team members were all exhausted, there wasn't anything left", said Nishino, who was previously the Japan Football Association's technical director.

Now Japan stand in the path of another appearance in the quarter-finals, where Brazil or Mexico will lie in wait.

MF Hotaru Yamaguchi, N/R - Was unable to have much impact after coming on, though was caught on Belgium's late counter.

"We do have the spirit and the mentality", Nishino said.

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Along with Keizuke Honda, they will be looking to make up for the defeat to Paraguay at South Africa 2010, the last time that the Japanese featured in the knockout rounds.

Dries Mertens, who is likely to be back alongside Eden Hazard in support of Lukaku after Martinez fielded a virtual reserve team against England, said the players were well aware that they had come up short in the past four years. In the last World Cup in Brazil, Belgium needed 120 minutes to get past U.S. in the Round of 16 in Salvador on July 1.

Japan took control with two goals within five minutes to take control, but Belgium did not give up. Even when they were put under serious pressure by Belgium, the team kept their shape and defended with discipline and energy.

So Belgium are supposedly on the "tougher" side of the World Cup bracket.

"The ones who played against England had a really good experience".

The Red Devils went in goalless at half-time against the Central American minnows, and team captain Hazard took Lukaku to one side to encourage the Manchester United target man to get more involved in the game.

With nine goals so far in Russia, Belgium are the World Cup's top-scoring team.

De Bruyne advanced the ball with a handsome push, making a ideal lead pass to Jan Vertonghen with room to run.

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